Bergman wins IRA race in Penticton
Youth prevailed over experience at the latest event on Interior Running Association's road series Sunday in Penticton.
Kelowna's Sean Bergman, 15, captured the Lakeside Resort 5 K in 16 minutes five seconds, just three seconds ahead of West Kelowna's Hans Aabye.
A Grade 10 student at KSS, Bergman moved to the front less than two kilometres into the race, then held off a late charge by Aabye over the last 100 metres for his first win on the IRA circuit.
"I couldn't hear (Hans), so I didn't realize how close he was," Bergman said. "He kind of surprised me at the end and the moment I saw him, that got my adrenalin going. I just kicked it and managed to get across the line in time."
Bergman, who competes in track and field for the Okanagan Athletics club and at KSS, had never run in an IRA race before. It wasn't until Saturday night, after the urging of his coach Nate Reiter, that Bergman signed up.
"I'm happy I decided to do it," said Bergman. "It was nice to get that first win early in the season. I'm not sure if I'll run in anymore, but it was a good experience."
Reiter, who coaches Bergman with the Okanagan Athletics Club, was impressed by the young runner's start to the season.
"I was very happy with how Sean ran," said Reiter who himself won the Penticton race two years ago. "He hasn't been racing a lot the last couple of months, so to win against some experienced runners was a good test effort. He's a good athlete, and it was a great result for a guy who has lots of potential in the years to come."
Bergman has been successful the last couple of years at the provincial level, competing primarily in the 2 k steeplechase and 3,000 metre distances with both KSS and OAC.
Meanwhile, Aabye won the first race of the IRA season, capturing the Starting Block 10K on Feb. 16 in Lavington.
Kelowna's John Machuga finished third overall in 17:04. Machuga was a five-time winner on the circuit last season.
The top female finisher Sunday was Vernon teenager Hannah Bennison who was ninth overall in 18:19, while Kelowna's Christy Lovig was second in 18:33.
The age group winners from Kelowna/West Kelowna were:
• Sean Bergman (M 16-19)
• Hans Aabye (M 35-39)
• Christy Lovig (F 35-39)
• Ken Byl (M 50-54)
• Randy Goncalves (M 40-44)
• John Wickenheiser (M 55-59)
• Cindy Rhodes (F 55-59)
• Brian Rourke (M 65-69)
• Caroline Raine (F 50-54)
• Sandra Thomson (F 60-64)
• Peter Pollhammer (M 70-74)
The next event on the IRA circuit is The River's Spring Run Off 10 K, Sunday, March 16 in Kamloops.
For more information visit www.interiorrunningassociation.com